Mancos officials are pursuing a project that might bring affordable housing for artists to town.
The Space to Create program aims to construct affordable housing for artists and other creatives in Colorado communities. It’s funded by Colorado Creative Industries (CCI), the Department of Local Affairs and the Boettcher Foundation.
Mancos, which is a state-designated creative district, has a high concentration of creative people, said Town Administrator Andrea Phillips. About 120 artists live in the Mancos Valley area, she said.
“We’re excited to be considered,” Phillips said.
The Space to Create program would give those artists an opportunity to live close to where they work, she said. The Mancos Board of Trustees authorized Phillips to apply for the program at its April 13 meeting.
CCI is interested in investing in southwest Colorado, and Mancos is competing with Ridgway for the program, Phillips said.
Representatives from the funding groups will be conducting a site visit to Mancos on May 11, and town officials should know if Mancos is selected shortly after, Phillips said.
“Even if Ridgway gets it, it’s exciting to see that investment in a small town,” she said.
If Mancos is selected, the town would be responsible for contributing up to $35,000 for a feasibility and market study for the project, Phillips said. She suggested the Mancos Creative District contribute $15,000 of that, with the town contributing $5,000. Officials would approach local businesses, organizations and property owners to raise the remaining $15,000, she said.
The feasibility study would determine if any buildings downtown would be suitable for an artists’ housing development. But Phillips said which property would house a project like that is still up in the air. Some of the buildings proposed to potentially house the development include historic buildings downtown such as the Mancos Common Press building, the old hardware store and the Mancos Inn, as well as several vacant lots in downtown Mancos. There’s a list of about eight properties that could potentially be the home for the project, Phillips said.
Trinidad, in southeast Colorado, is the first community to participate in the Space to Create program. Phillips said the Trinidad program spurred some investment in that city’s downtown. She’s hopeful that the project could initiate some downtown revitalization in Mancos.
“There’s a market for it here, especially for rentals or condos in the downtown core,” Phillips said. “People want downtown livability and walkability. That’s what people are looking for.”